Potentilla supina (Bushy Cinquefoil)
|Also known as:||Sand Cinquefoil|
|Life cycle:||annual, short-lived perennial|
|Habitat:||sun; moist or wet sandy soil; lakeshores, river banks, sand bars, low fields|
|Bloom season:||June - August|
|Plant height:||8 to 12 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers on short stalks in branching, leafy clusters at the branch tips, bright yellow, around ¼ inch across with 5 nearly round petals with a slight depression at the tip giving them a rounded heart shape. Directly behind them are 5 broad lance-like sepals, sharply pointed, about as long as the petals and alternating between them with another set of lance shaped bractlets behind them. The outer surface of bractlets and sepals are hairy.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are alternate along the branches, the lower stem leaves are pinnately compound, 2 to 3 inches long. The 7 to 11 oblong to oval leaflets have coarsely toothed edges, the tips blunt or rounded, the surfaces soft from short, fine hairs (pubescent). Leaves are smaller as they ascend the stem, becoming 3-parted and short stalked in the flower clusters.
At the base of the leaf stalk is a pair of leafy appendages (stipules) that are lance shaped with a sharply pointed tip and smooth edges. Stems are smooth to hairy with diffuse branching that is spreading to ascending.
Fruit is a dry seed with a corky appendage on one side that is often as large as the seed body.
Bushy Cinquefoil was formerly known as species Potentilla paradoxa, but now lumped into the European Potentilla supina as subsp. paradoxa, the only one of the 7 subspecies known to be in North America. While its preferred habitat is lake shore, it is not very common in the land of 10,000 lakes. It is likely dependent on broad, shallow beach lines subject to seasonal water fluctuations. It is very prolific around reservoirs and along sandy shoals of the Missouri River in the Dakotas. It could be confused with Rough Cinquefoil (Potentilla norvegica), a weedy species sometimes present in similar habitats, but the flower sepals and bracts of that species are longer than the petals, its leaves are compound with only 3 leaflets that are much larger and broader, and its achenes are usually strongly wrinkled but lack the corky appendage.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Bushy Cinquefoil plant
- view from the top
- garden grown Bushy Cinquefoil
- more flowers
- Bushy Cinquefoil habitat
- Bushy Cinquefoil beach habitat
Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken at Lake Sakakawea near Garrison, North Dakota, and in his garden.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?